Contemporary Literature and Culture (MA)

Birkbeck’s MA Contemporary Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to specialise in twenty-first-century literature and culture, as well as exposing you to the most important literary and theoretical developments of the last few decades. It considers the legacy of postmodernism, the effects of new technologies on narrative form, and the aesthetic, spatial and political coordinates of writing produced in an increasingly networked and globalised world.

Through a range of literary and interdisciplinary options, you have the opportunity to pursue your own interests, whether they lie in contemporary poetics; in fiction from Britain, the US, Europe or postcolonial nations; in the changing forms of the book in a digital age; or in historical approaches to issues like nation, race, gender and sexuality. The MA’s programme of study opens up the aesthetic, historical and political dimensions of contemporary literature and culture.

      Highlights

      Course structure

      You take two core modules and two option modules.

      You then write a dissertation on any aspect of contemporary literature and culture from Easter to September in your final year.

      The Summer Research Programme is a programme of events run for a closely connected cluster of MAs in the School of Arts, on a weekly basis throughout the 11-week summer term. The programme includes a series of dissertation workshops that supplement one-to-one supervision, but it also reflects the dynamic and wide-ranging nature of contemporary studies in the School. It includes guest speakers, debates and film screenings, takes in Birkbeck’s annual Arts Week and is concluded by a student-led conference that showcases the work of MA students across the School.

      Module groups

      Option modules vary from year to year and this list is indicative. You may be able, with the permission of the programme director, to take option modules available in different subject areas from across the School of Arts.

      To find out more, read our programme handbook.

      • Entry Requirements

        Entry requirements

        A good second-class honours undergraduate degree in literature, cultural studies, history or another relevant subject.

        International entry requirements

        If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

        If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

        Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

        Course specific entry requirements

        A good second-class honours degree in literature, cultural studies, history or another relevant subject.

        Visa requirements

        If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

        The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

        • Courses of more than six months' duration.
        • Courses of less than six months' duration.
        • Pre-sessional English language courses.

        International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

        For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

        Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

        If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

        Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

      • Fees

        Fees

        Part-time home/EU students: £4175 pa
        Full-time home/EU students: £8350 pa
        Part-time international students: £7600 pa
        Full-time international students: £15200 pa

        Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

      • Teaching and assessment

        Teaching

        At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

        Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

        Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

        In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

        Methods of teaching on this course

        A mixture of lectures and small-group seminars.

        Key staff teaching on this programme

        Contact hours

        On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

        On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

        On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

        Timetables

        Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

        Indicative class size

        Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

        Independent learning

        On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

        Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

        On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

        Study skills and additional support

        Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

        • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
        • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
        • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

        Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

        Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

        Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

        Assessment

        Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

        Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

        Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

        Methods of assessment on this course

        All assessment will be via coursework essays rather than examinations. For the core courses and most of the option modules, assessment will consist of one 5000-word essay for each module; the dissertation will be 15,000 words.

      • Careers and employability

        Careers and employability

        Graduates go in to careers in writing and journalism, editing and publishing, research, marketing, public relations and education. Possible professions include writing, editing, or publishing. This degree can also be useful in becoming an editorial assistant, public relations officer, magazine or newspaper journalist, or advertising copywriter.

        We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

      • How to apply

        How to apply

        You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

        Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

        Application deadlines and interviews

        We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.